FENLAND: Tony Martin concern over play inspired by shootings

PUBLISHED: 18:45 13 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:03 02 June 2010

(Multiple values)  Play about Tony Martin

(Multiple values) Play about Tony Martin

By ADAM LAZZARI TONY MARTIN is concerned a play inspired by his infamous shooting of two burglars will send out the wrong message - according to his friend and spokesman. Wasteland, which has been produced by New Perspectives Theatre, is being toured arou

(Multiple values)  Play about Tony Martin

By ADAM LAZZARI

TONY MARTIN is concerned a play inspired by his infamous shooting of two burglars will send out the wrong message - according to his friend and spokesman.

Wasteland, which has been produced by New Perspectives Theatre, is being toured around the East Midlands.

It was performed for the seventh time at the South Holland Centre, Spalding on Wednesday and it could be shown nationwide.

The play has been inspired by the events leading up to Martin's killing of Fred Barras, then 16, and wounding of Brendan Fearon, then 29, when the pair broke into his isolated Emneth Hungate farmhouse on August 20, 1999.

The story made Martin a household name and he served three years in jail after a murder conviction was overturned on the grounds of diminished responsibility and replaced by manslaughter.

Malcolm Starr, who organised a Free Tony Martin campaign at the time, said: "Tony will be very bemused. If the play creates sympathy for the burglars he will be concerned that it sends out the wrong message.

"A lot of people grow up in tough surroundings and don't go around breaking into homes.

"Tony has always stood by his actions and said he would do the same again.

"He is sad that a 16-year-old has died but believes he should not be held accountable.

"He blames the boy's parents for allowing him to hang around like scum like Brendon Fearon, and Brendon himself for putting the lad in such a dangerous situation."

The play has been written by Laura Lomas from Derby, close to where Barras and Fearon originate.

Artistic director of New Perspectives Theatre, Daniel Buckroyd, who commissioned the play, said: "It is not a literal re-telling of the Tony Martin story.

"Laura considered doing that but thought she would never be able to do it authentically. She thought it would be more interesting to explore the burglar's backgrounds.

"The play starts and ends with a farmer shooting two burglars in his home but the characters have different names and much of it comes from Laura's imagination.

"We've had some very positive responses. Some people have said things like, "these lads were pure scum", but people are not just born that way.

"Laura is asking the question: What leads a 16-year-old lad to end up burgling someone's home?

"It doesn't merely set out to create sympathy for the burglars.

"The press have generally reported on the play in a very black and white way but life is not like that."

Mr Starr said: "Tony will not be outraged because he is not an angry man. But I don't think he will go to see the play."

Mr Starr said he knew of another play about the Martin case, performed by Oxford University a few years ago, that was "very much in sympathy with Tony."

The playwright Toni Arthur-Hay also approached the farmer about a possible dramatisation.

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